Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Titling Your Novel

Titling a novel that you've labored on for months or even years is very hard. Believe me, I've spent countless hours thinking about the titles for my books. As I write on a story, the title changes many times because I try to think of words that will represent my story and also entice readers to want to pick up my novel.

And here's the deal, most of the time the title an author gives a book will be cast aside when a publisher buys it. But that's all right. Trust your publisher to know what works and what doesn't.

Of my five novels above (there is a little Christmas book tucked in there that I'm not counting) I was able to keep three titles that I gave them, which is highly unusual. But I'm very grateful for my publisher giving different titles to the novels that needed them: Cold Justice (2012) and The Stone Traveler (2010). The new titles for those stories helped my novels sell.

When I'm mulling over a title for a manuscript I like to think about setting, genre, characters, theme, and even an elevator pitch (your story condensed to one sentence).

Most of Cold Justice is set in Alaska, plus its winter when the story begins. This story is a suspense/mystery novel. And my theme for the book was along the lines of the truth will eventually come out. The title I submitted for my manuscript was waaaaaay off the mark, but my publisher nailed it.

I was able to keep the title of River Whispers. Much of the story takes place by a river and my main character's late husband had told her about how the river whispers of the past. And because this was also a suspense/mystery the title fit. I was very fortunate that I was able to keep the title I'd given the book.

The Stone Traveler was a young adult time/travel. This story is about a young man who comes across a stone that takes him back in time. The working title I gave this novel was horrible. I admit it. I'd titled it The Sacrifice. Now that may have been more appealing to adults, but young adults--well not so much. Again, my publisher came to the rescue.

Believe it or not I came up with the title for The Forgotten Warrior.  I remember the day it came to me. I'd been struggling with what to title my manuscript, and as I was making the bed one morning I was thinking how the story was about a young woman who traveled back in time and was with the stripling warriors. Those familiar with the story of the stripling warriors know that they were young men, even boys, so what could I title this since my main character was a young woman. And then inspiration struck, she was simply a warrior who had been forgotten. This was the first novel that I sold and as you can image I was thrilled that I was allowed to keep my title.

For my little Christmas story, An Angel on Main Street. I gave that manuscript so many titles and none seemed right until I tried to think of how I would condense this story into an elevator pitch. Key scenes in this story happen in a small town on Main Street. And the angel . . . yes there is an angel, but I'm not going to tell you more. Again, I was very fortunate to be able to keep the title. I've had some people say that it sounds like a Hallmark movie, which I find to be a high compliment.


My new novel (the release date has been bumped up to May--yipee!!!) is titled Wanted. And I have been very fortunate once again to keep my working title. This title came more from the characters. The story is about an escaped prisoner who was unjustly accused of murder and is on a mission to find the real killer. And, of course, it is a romantic suspense. I can't wait to see what you think of it.

Now it's your turn. How do you come up with titles for your stories?



  1. I'm struggling with titles at the moment. One, The Mark, fits but doesn't really grab readers' attention. The second, Dark Heritage, I love, love, love. The main character shouted that one in my ear. ;) I wish they would all name themselves that way.

    1. I'd certainly keep the on you love. :) I know what you mean when a character shouts something in your ear.

  2. Hey Kathi,
    I'm hosting a writing contest on my blog and it would be wonderful if you wanted to enter!



Related Posts with Thumbnails